"The Game Got the Better of Me" - An Interview with Survivor's Shawna Mitchellby David Bloomberg -- 04/18/2003
Shawna Mitchell was voted out of Survivor: The Amazon after deciding she wanted to stay, which came after she had originally wanted to leave. RealityNewsOnline asked her some questions about her time in the Amazon.
RealityNewsOnline: Hi, Shawna, and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. You've seen Deena's comments that your low period before the tribal swap occurred was mostly mental, and many fans have said on message boards that you were simply faking. What do you have to say to such statements?
Shawna Mitchell: People can think what they want. ;-) It makes for better TV if I look like I am a guy-crazy whiner. In truth, the environment was unforgiving - once you started spiraling physically or mentally, there was little way of getting your mind around what was going on. I had no support structure, no allies, was forced to hang with a bunch of fatalistic martyrs (everybody became one... me included) and a lot of people there whose job it is to create an entertaining story arc. As for faking it, here's the scoop on my "miraculous recovery." Do with it what you please... I relapsed by day 4 into a cold/flu thing I had pre-game, causing me borderline clinical dehydration. On top of all that jazz, I didn't go to the bathroom (1 or 2) for 18 days, had my period for 22 days straight, was passing out, blacking out, dry heaving, and I couldn't keep water down. To someone who lives by sound mind/sound body, this scared the living crap out of me. I didn't see a goal (a million dollars is so intangible to a 23-year-old)... then I just lost it mentally (aka. the Coke-losing disaster of Shawna). When the guys finally showed up at our camp, I found these strong pillars of people that I could lean on to re-center my head. For the first time, I felt like someone wasn't trying to beat me down. I am an emotional person who does not thrive in negative environments. Unfortunately, the game got the better of me. The positive energy supplied by the guys lifted all the girls up at camp, not just me. And by no means, by the way, was I feeling top notch after the guys came. I was definitely still babysitting those logs when they were around ;-)... But what they did do for me was they repaired my spirit and gave me a reason to enjoy the game.
RNO: When you were saying you were trapped in the game, was there anything that stopped you from just saying you'd had enough and turning yourself over to the Survivor doctors to take you out?
Shawna: I could have. By day 4, I was feeling the illness pretty hard. But I was there to play, and wanted to stay in the game at that point. The bummer was my emotions getting the better of me down the line. An individual could duck out of the game if they wanted, but though I was extremely upset and unhealthy, I was going to play it by the rules... get booted the normal way.
RNO: When you first took part in forming the alliance with Heidi, Jenna, and Deena, you talked about how strong it was. What happened to that alliance after the guys showed up - did Jenna and Deena even approach you about making sure it stuck together?
Shawna: The original Jaburu alliance was very strong before I mentally lost it. It was strong after I lost it too actually. However, after the guys joined us, I felt the synergy of this new group formed a much stronger bond and trust than our previous alliance. Deena may have been partial to keep it guys v. girls (dunno - never had the chance to chat with her about that one). For me, there were no gender lines and no boot order in my version (after all, I really didn't know who to put faith in after the interesting position I was put in pre-switch). Whether it is a naive assumption or not, I had faith that things would play out and reveal themselves as needed. The game is so crazy nuts... If you overpredict it to the point of unwarranted confidence, you'll fall. In response, I was trying to stay flexible and open.
RNO: After you lost the immunity challenge and sat around discussing how the vote was going to go, you said you thought you should go before Deena or Jenna, but you also said you still wanted to stay - had you talked to Alex previously about trying to get Matthew voted out and why did you both target Matthew?
Shawna: Matthew was campaigning for the votes against me, but I did not partake in trying to sway anyone's decisions. I told them to make it on their own and to not feel bad if their vote went my way. I voted for Matthew because of process of elimination, and the reason I announced it was because I play with my cards on the table as a person.
RNO: We saw Alex getting a bit annoyed at the way Matthew was trying to hang out with you while you were with Alex - did he express the same annoyance or jealousy to you at the time?
Shawna: Alex and I rarely discussed the game (or anyone in it) when we hung out. We became each other's escapism in a way. I noticed there was a little tension, but nothing was mentioned to me personally.
RNO: Rumor is that you and Alex are actually still together - care to comment on that?
Shawna: The contestants cannot hang until the finale contractually. Currently, I am single and quite happy.
RNO: Were you surprised that Jenna and Deena turned on you and voted you out?
Shawna: Naw... I would've voted me out too. Jenna and Deena were just playing the game. At that point, I knew I was on my way out. Seriously, I was just trying to suck in my last few days with these amazing people and walk away from the Amazon with some teary laughs and good memories.
RNO: Did you come to Survivor with a particular plan and, if so, how was that plan affected by the gender-divided tribes?
Shawna: Everyone always harps on "I was just there for the experience"... but that is me. I tried out at San Jose's open call as a random activity on an idle Tuesday while getting coffee. Life just started lining up after that. Before I knew it, I was sitting in a hammock the night before the game started absolutely astounded that I was about to embark on such a funky adventure. I live my life seeking out phenomenal opportunities, putting myself constantly out of my comfort zone, and sitting back to watch how I emerge out of these situations. My goal in Survivor was to play genuine, meet incredible people, have people take me personally, and absolutely have the time of my life... winning would have been phat, but that wasn't my primary goal. I was just going to be myself and play life. The gender split messed me up strategically because as a tomboy, I naturally gravitate toward guys. However, it was an incredible experience to be with those ladies - a side of myself that needed development probably. ;-)
RNO: Even before and after you were sick, several other tribe members (Jeanne, JoAnna, Deena) made comments that you, Heidi, and Jenna were not really doing any work. What is your side of the story?
Shawna: D'oh! Not true. ;-) Though they were the hunters... the three of us were the homemakers of sorts. The fire, water, and food were essential survival jobs 24/7. We all agreed by day 2 which tasks each of us did the best. With my backpacking/outdoor experience, I stuck with the fire and water.
RNO: When the plan was made to vote off JoAnna before you got sick, was it because she was a threat (as she has asserted) or because she was annoying (as it appeared on TV)?
Shawna: A little of both... Deena really was pushing for her early departure. After Janet's boot, the order for the three (Jeanne, Jo, and Christy) was up in the air. We were going to keep her as our last of the boots being that Jo was the strongest physically, but tensions started growing within the camp between the head powers... really only one leader was going to the merge.
RNO: Thanks for your time, Shawna!
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at email@example.com.
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